SSUK 2016 Coventry

Jamiedyer

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SSUK 2016 Coventry
I posted in the other thread about SSUK so thought I would post a couple of pics about it. A couple of people mentioned I should make sure to do a write up, be careful what you wish for. :LOL:
Due to it being all the way south down in Coventry I had managed to get the Friday off work and while it would have been ideal to get down to Brians on the Thursday night and get an early start, that wasn't possible due to it being Calebs Birthday on the Friday. So Caleb had his Birthday dinner, cake and presents on Thursday night so I could get an early start. It isn't as bad/sad as it sounds as he had school on Friday and straight after school he and Heather were heading for loch Lomond to Grans house.
So for me it was a 4am start getting down to Brians for about 7am. Once loaded with both 1X1's and our camping gear in my little Meriva we were off.
Lets just say it was a long drive, we had several stops, one for breakfast, one for lunch and a coffee and supermarket stop at the end. We arrived around 6pm to the campsite. Thankfully Brian brought along his satnav which we turned on once we left the M5 toll road. Unfortunately the postcode the organisers had given us was wrong, and put us in a dead end alley which turned out to be about 5 miles short of where we should have been. Luckily I could speak basic English and could get directions from a very helpful local family.
We found the campsite easily with the fine directions we were given and we both had our tents up in quick fashion and sorted ready for our stay. This was due in no small part by Brian who steered me straight by suggesting I get set up first before signing on and getting a beer and socializing. Good man.
The set up in a barn type building was pretty good for socializing, which we did in earnest. We signed on and were given our race numbers, goody bag, dinner voucher etc. The goody bag was particularly good as it contained among other things, a beer cup, a stainless hip flask with the SSUK 2016 logo on it, along with the usual stickers etc. At this time we also bought some raffle tickets as there were some very cool prizes , as usual for an SSUK meeting, such as Surly fatbike rims, rabbit hole rims, Stooge Frame, Pugsley and karate Monkey frames, carbon forks along with a lot of other stuff. I should point out that neither of us won any of the frames or rims. I wanted the 26'' Rabbit Hole rims as they were gold anodised. You have got to be in it to win it :)
After catching up with a few people and having a couple of relaxing beers it was reasonably early to bed. The partying went on into the small hours but I was so tired I slept through it no bother.
Saturday dawned very overcast and rain was forecast for later in the morning and by the look of the clouds it was looking likely. After eating breakfast and a couple of coffees whilst checking out some of the other machines it was off to the meeting place to ride to the start of the race which was about a mile or so away. It was right when we set off that the rain started. Now I had the good sense to put my rain jacket into one of my back pockets, but by the time I got to the start place briefing area I was too wet to bother with it.
It was the usual SSUK affair in that after the briefing we took our bikes into the woods to the start area and left them for the Le Mans start. Now we all now that they will then move/hide/put in trees everyones bikes just to make it a bit harder. We waited a good while in the pub carpark across the road for the start, and after a false start from Charlie, who everyone thought was doing it officially, we were briefed and started. True to form there were bikes everywhere except where they had been left. Once I found my machine, which took a fair while I got going off the start area and onto the singletrack, I was played onto the singletrack by a banjo player playing duelling banjos. Very creepy in the deep dark woods, you could hear it for a long time. The track was pretty dry for the first half of the race and then the rains came down in biblical proportions, the second half of the first lap was a good indication of what was to come as time went on as the climbs of which there was a few just got very slippery and very hard as you had to stay seated to get up them, if you stood up, as I am want to do, then you just spin instantly. Some of these climbs were long enough to become real pains. The first third was some really nice singletrack through the woods on the flat, I really like this as it was quite quick/fast and really flowed. Then there was a section where you went into a more dense part and started climbing often swooping back on yourself and riding along the side of the hills, then it was onto the top section that at one point got a bit technical between some trees and rocks to swoop up and then turn and put you into a drop that was off camber turning as you went down. This was easy enough the first time but once wet, the roots and chewed up bumpy descent mad it a bit of a sphincter clench :)
Then it was dropping on a big corrugated, wide but steep downhill section into a blind dropoff into a bombhole type section and then a long climb back to the start area. This was a SSUK event so the beer stop was situated here, in fact there was two routes, one for beer and if you didn't want a beer you had to do a longer route around the beer tent before starting the next lap. The rain by this stage was pretty heavy and everything was very wet. I stopped and had a beer before heading off for the next lap. This lap was quite different, in as much as now that everything was completely soaked, the course was now a different beast, mud, mud and more mud, oh and some clay :) Even the previously fast flat stuff was now slippery when swooping through the bends and once back looped past the start area the mud just got browner and more slippery. The only highlights on this lap were where I climbed to the top area and realised after I dropped into the tech area that my brakes were worn and not working well as I somehow went through there flat out and it was more down to the banking and flowy nature of the track than any sort of skill that saved me from crashing. I stopped to adjust the brake and clean my glasses which had gotten mud on the inside, did I say it was muddy already?, well taking my glasses off was a bad move as my gloves were covered in mud, in fact every inch of me was covered in mud. Eventually I had to pull up my shorts and try and clean them on my padded shorts as best I could. Once back underway I was soon into the short rooty downhill section, this is where I realise my back brake was not functioning properly, it literally had no effect other than to lock at low speed. This was not the ideal way to descend this thankfully short, rooty section. I did it quite quickly, unintentionally of course, much like a motogp rider, as in one leg of the pegs while squeezing the brakes hard. :)
Things just got wetter and muddier from there, but what the hell you have to keep going.
I am sure they pulled the pin and finished it early as it seemed to be over quickly, but maybe the anticipated 40 min laps worked out longer after the course deteriorated.
Had a beer with Brian, who I must say was looking quite cleanish, as opposed to myself who was just a brown muddy mess head to toe, who was at the finish line with Gil and several others.
From here we rode back to the campground and remembering there was a hose near our tents, that's where I made a bee line for. I hosed the bike down and then hosed myself whilst standing there. Well the mud just kept coming off and coming off. In the end I stripped down to my padded shorts and hosed my gear hanging on the fence along with my shoes and the guy camped along from us hosed me down prison style. I quickly changed and pulled the wheels off my now clean bike and put it into the car. Ready for the morning but meaning I was sorted and could now go and have a drink and socialize ;)
Soon Brian was back after taking a wrong turn. For this I must apologize to Brian as I was racing and mucking about with a couple of the guys in a group that set out in front of us. When we got to the junction we turned right onto the main road, I assumed Brian was just behind me with Gil and I didn't wait, to be honest I didn't think about it as I thought he was hooked in behind me. He got to the junction, couldn't see us and thought we went left. Sorry mate :(
The rest of the afternoon was spent relaxing and catching up with people I don't see that often and meeting new friends too. It was good to see my Fatty Owl teammates from the Puffer again, Gil who is also a fellow retrobiker and who is heading off to the singlespeed worlds in Australia next month and Tom who has got to be the fastest singlespeeder I have known who also just finished the Great Divide race in the States recently. It was also good to have a drink and a laugh with Charlie and crew. It was especially nice to chat with Marcus who has just ridden his singlespeed around the world. He left at the last UKSS2015 and finished just a couple of weeks ago. Have met Marcus at a few different things both singlespeed and fatbike and he is the nicest most friendly guy but this round the world ride must make him legend status, does to me anyway.
Thankfully I got to bed reasonably early as I knew I had a looong drive home on Sunday.
We were up for about 5.30am and on the road for just after 6.30. It would have been slightly earlier but for a mix up with gates being locked, or not locked as it turned out. First stop was up in the Lake District as we made good time, so it was coffee all round and scones for breakfast. We made Perth for about 1pm so we were making good time now. We had lunch in M&S with next stop being Brians. Spent maybe an hour at Brians unloading and drinking another coffee before finally arriving home about 8pm.
It was a great weekend and a long way to go but worth it. From Friday to Sunday I drove 1192 miles and must have spent 24 hours in the car, but again it was worth it.
Thanks to Brian for the company and the laughs, would have been scuppered without you. Cheers.
Next year the SSEC (European SS) is in Scotland, just near Brians on this side of the Cromarty bridge and SSUK is in Cumbria, so a lot closer. Heres to less driving in 2017.

If you've read this and still have the will to live then thanks ;)

Jamie

Clean before the start
DSCN2814 by Jamie Dyer, on Flickr

Before the start ( me already looking like grumpy f**ker)
ssuk3 by Jamie Dyer, on Flickr

Bikes everywhere
DSCN2815 by Jamie Dyer, on Flickr

Down we go
SSUK2016 by Jamie Dyer, on Flickr

Getting slippery, ooohhhh no brake! WTF! ( its hard to tell in this pic, but that is just mud on my shorts and legs)
SSUK2016 1 by Jamie Dyer, on Flickr

Its getting wet, but at least its beer stop time
DSCN2820 by Jamie Dyer, on Flickr

Wetness at the beer stop.
DSCN2819 by Jamie Dyer, on Flickr
 

jimo746

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Awesome! Great write up and great pics, as always :)

Now, where do I sign up for SSUK/EC 2017?? :mrgreen:
 

Jamiedyer

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Thanks guys, I think the write up is more epic than the weekend :)
It was a good one for sure and Gaz, Gil and I were expecting Si (Doc S) to show up but don't know what happened but he didn't make it.
Here is a pic of some of the stuff in the swag bag.
Hopefully Brian will be along soon to add to this.

Jamie

DSC_1550 by Jamie Dyer, on Flickr

and one of my all time favourite stickers I think, sums up a SSUK weekend nicely
DSC_1547 by Jamie Dyer, on Flickr

and they even supplied you with you own beer cup for the race
DSC_1546 by Jamie Dyer, on Flickr

DSC_1547 (2) by Jamie Dyer, on Flickr
 

Jamiedyer

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Always good to catch up Gil, shame Si didn't make it.
Have a great time in Oz at SS Worlds.

Jamie
 

Mike Muz

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Yes, liked that! Good to hear what others are up to.

Nice one mate ;)

Mike
 

epicyclo

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Great road trip, good company. All the country's political problems were sorted. Bike designs were perfected, and much discussion on the availablity of indicators on certain German cars. We won't mention the bull in a china shop incident where display stock was "slightly" cracked in a flash cafe on the A9.

The SatNav problem was a repeat of last year. The moral is if you're organising a meet, see if your SatNav takes you to the right postcode. Luckily Jamie is fluent in the local language, so the subsequent directions were good.

The campsite was nice and flat, but it was a bit alarming to discover only 3 port-a-loos for the masses with no washing facilities. With drunken SSers squalor was guaranteed, and although the loos were regularly cleaned, that's what we got.

As usual the social bit was good and continued well into the small hours. This earned us a reprimand from the "big house" and a threat to call the police and evict us all out of the campsite in the middle of the night. Also a complaint about al fresco toileting, not surprising considering the loos.

The race itself was fun. once I found my bike. It was buried under bracken - maybe my race number (3) gave a false impression of my speed. It is new track in the woods with the requisite number of uppy and downy bits, including one that looked vertical when I stopped at the top of it. Because there was another rider right up my bum, I decided to get out of the way and ran down it, just to end up in an ungainly heap entwined with bike. Sad thing was the drop was eminently rideable, but as I have to be careful not to leak too much blood caution is the word. Overall, an enjoyable track.

The rain was torrential. I know a bit about that because I've lived in the tropics in monsoon season. It quickly turned the trail into slimy mush. It was still fun but my glasses were coated on both sides and I simply couldn't see where I was going. I figured a lengthy stop at the beer station would help clear them up, and indeed after several beers, it did. I was extolling its virtues (the beer) to a brown chap who sounded familiar and was claiming to be Jamie when much to my surprise the race ended.

Somehow, I got lost on the way back. For 5 miles...

As for our departure, there was much self satisfaction at our virtuous arising at such an early hour, packing up, and being at the gate at 6:30 - only to find a sign "This gate is locked from *pm to 8am". There were 4 big padlocks on the bloody thing. Cue a sound like cranky hornets in Jamie's wee Meriva.

Off to the big house, no sign of anyone, round to the organisers tent, all still dead from the revelry despite Jamie's loud exhortations. Characters were defamed, the English toffs propensity to lock up the countryside disparaged, and self sympathy for our dilemma expressed.

So back to the gate to start a queue. On closer inspection (some Australian Scottish Bolsheviks were planning dismantling the gate) it became obvious that it only appeared to be locked. It was a somewhat embarrassed duo who quietly slunk out of the driveway, hoping no one realised it was us who were trying to wake up the campsite at ungodly o'clock of a hangover morning. :oops:

The highlight? The race was good, but meeting up with Markus again was great. A round the world ride on a singlespeed puts him up in the awesome category for me. The great thing was how few mechanical problems he'd had. A few punctures and a spoke I think covers it.

BTW for mud? Drum brakes, fully enclosed, they work and modulate nicely. :)

Edit: and thanks to the organisers for a memorable event. Twas good, very good.
 

RobMac

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Jamiedyer":2o53gbk6 said:
Next year the SSEC (European SS) is in Scotland, just near Brians on this side of the Cromarty bridge and SSUK is in Cumbria, so a lot closer. Heres to less driving in 2017.
When are these being held?
And
What size wheels were folks using at Coventry?
 
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